“You look good for your age.” I can’t decide if that’s a compliment or not? Growing up and through my twenties and thirties, I always looked a little younger. That appears to be diminishing. Now, I look in the mirror and its seems as though I’ve aged 5 years in the past 2. I actually pulled up a picture of myself from 2013 and compared it to a current picture. Ugh, have the past 2 ½ years really been that stressful or has the stress from the last 6 years finally caught up with me?
My nighttime ritual of washing my face and brushing my teeth now includes a study in the mirror; pulling my skin back and up with my hands to see my former self. Things are becoming a little more prevalent now: the sag in the jaw line (jowls… sounds so sexy), deepening smile lines and multiplying wrinkles at the corners of my eyes, not to mention the circles under my eyes, which I’ve always battled. My forehead is carved with lines and is inching down my face, hooding my eyes and making them look tired. The gray hair is coming in thicker and wire-y; lovely when they stick straight up in my part. Unfortunately, these things I expected and since I have no plans to have plastic surgery or use Botox, it’s going to happen. I’m not thrilled about it, but as they say, the lines we develop show that we’ve lived life. What I’m not prepared for are the other changes going on.
Last week, I started taking a class at a place call The Bar Method. Its exercise at a ballet bar: lots of isometric holds, push ups and crunches and is actually quite hard. A few other ladies my age have braved the class, but it’s mostly slender, young twenty-something-year olds. I feel really short in class. With floor-length mirrors on two walls, it’s not hard to notice EVERYTHING. As we hold our arms up, I notice the swag of flesh waving underneath. Standing next to a rather tall young lady, I see my hips and thighs bulging against my black yoga leggings; I try to pull my top down a little more. As we do crunches, the wrinkles on my neck and chest scream at me; the sun spots and uneven skin tone accentuated even more by the lights. All those years of sunbathing are finally showing their true face. All of this has caught me a little off guard. The gym has been a part of my life since the early ‘90’s and I have stayed in relatively good shape. Sure, there were some times I got slack and put some pounds on (in my brief marriage of 3 ½ years, I packed on 20 pounds). But for the most part, all’s been good. In those days, if I put on a few, it wasn’t extremely hard to drop them. Now, the pounds cling to me despite how much I fight it. Things are sagging and wagging.
Yes, I know I should not compare myself to others, especially to much younger women and I’m not striving to look like a twenty-something year old. In fact, most who do so end up looking very odd and plastic-y. I have definitely earned my wrinkles. I don’t, however, want my body to get old before it’s time. I want to be out doing things and in my head and heart, I’m no older than… let’s say, 30. Because of that, I tend to forget that I’m entering the high-maintenance phase of my life. It’s as if my body is yelling, “HEY LADY, you’re not 25 anymore!! You can’t take a month off from the gym, eat pizza every Friday night and drink beer every weekend and expect things to stay in place.” I am now well aware of this.
I’m trying to fight back. I’ve signed up for the Bar Method class for 6 weeks and I’ve promised myself to get in some walking too. I toyed with trying to get back into running…. But NO. That is one thing I don’t want to put the body through again. I can do this with that stress. Motivation is my weak point, or I should say, staying motivated.. and my love of eating. I have to look at this like a project – a DIY project of sorts – to restore this 48-year-old body and feel good in it again.